We often hear the dentist telling us that the wisdom teeth are the source of all evils within the oral cavity, and must be removed immediately to prevent damage to the other teeth. While it may be correct in correct in some regards, most of the times there extractions are carried out unnecessarily. However, whenever they actually need to be extracted, most of the patients are extremely reluctant in consenting for the procedure, as they are believers of the numerous myths that are circulating among the general public regarding the extraction of wisdom teeth. Some of these myths have been answered in this text.
Myth 1: Everyone Has Wisdom Teeth
Surprisingly, this is not true. It has been estimated that wisdom teeth are absent in about 35% of the people. Whether it is due evolution, or simply nature, cannot be ascertained definitively. However, in some people wisdom teeth, despite being present within the bone, inside their follicles, are unable to erupt. In other cases, one or two of them may be absent.
Myth 2: Wisdom Teeth Should Always be Extracted
This is not true. However, in certain cases, when a wisdom tooth becomes carious, gets infected or becomes associated with an abscess or a cyst, then it needs to be removed, in order to relieve the symptoms and prevent spreading of the infection. However, if the wisdom teeth remain symptomless, there is no need for them to be extracted.
Myth 3: Wisdom Teeth are Not Involved in Mastication
This statement is true. The wisdom teeth can no longer be regarded as being necessary for human survival, since they do not take an active part during mastication. Hence, getting them removed will not cause any impairment in the chewing ability of the dentition, however, they must only be extracted whenever indicated.
Myth 4: Impacted Wisdom Teeth Must be Extracted
This statement is partly true. Sometimes the wisdom teeth are unable to completely erupt into the dental arch, a condition known as tooth impaction. In these cases, the tooth becomes prone to frequent inflammation and infection, as a result of difficulty in maintaining oral hygiene of the site. Therefore, if the impacted wisdom tooth is causing troubles, then it must be extracted
Myth 5: Removing Wisdom Teeth at an Early Age Can be Less Traumatic
This is correct. In fact, most dentists believe that all 4 of the wisdom teeth should be surgically removed prior to attaining adulthood, before their roots are formed because there extraction becomes more and more difficult with increasing age. This is because the roots become firmly anchored within the bone, and make it quite difficult for the dentist to extract them with normal surgical procedures. However, it must be stressed here that removing the wisdom teeth when they are not causing any problems, is not advisable. In fact, the dentist should follow a “wait and see approach”, and resort to extraction, only when indicated.
Myth 6: Drinking and Smoking After Extraction Will Not Effect Healing
This is not correct. Just like it necessary to allow a clear field for the extraction sites of other teeth to heal without interruption, it is equally important, not to disturb the healing process after removal of a wisdom tooth. It has been scientifically proven that smoking and drinking alcohol can hamper the healing of extraction wounds, and must be avoided, especially during the healing phase.
Myth 7: Chances of Dental Pathologies in Wisdom Teeth Increases with Age
Yes, this statement is correct. Research has concluded that as one grows, the chances of infection within the wisdom teeth increases, especially if they are impacted. Hence, if the dentist observes that a wisdom tooth will cause problems in the future, it is advisable to get it extracted, so as to prevent discomfort in future
A Final Word
Although the chances of infection in wisdom teeth increase with age, if oral hygiene is maintained properly, especially in the surroundings of the wisdom teeth is ensured, wisdom toot related problems can be easily minimized. In fact, the reason that wisdom tooth frequently get carious or infected, is because of their distal placement, which makes it difficult for the bush and floss to reach there, and properly clean the site.